Editor’s Note: The Sounds We Live For

Editor-in-chief Liz Vaccariello reflects on the power of laughter.

ed letter liz
Steve Vaccariello for Reader’s Digest

The best laughs are the big ones. I’m not talking about the polite chuckling of people in staff meetings when the boss makes a joke. (In my case, they’d laugh even if I didn’t pay them … Right?) I’m talking about the squeals of delight that come out of crinkle-nosed children. I’m talking about the deep, unrestrained belly laughs of grown-ups. I’m talking about laughing so hard that there’s no sound at all.

For this most recent Finish This Sentence, we asked readers on our Facebook page to complete the thought “The most beautiful sound in the world is …” Of the 1,188 responders, a whopping 280 of you wrote about someone you love laughing (your baby, your brother, your wife). Isn’t it funny how the soul-stirring laughs come from the people who mean the most to us?

My daughters: two toddlers just tucked in. Giggles tumble out of the room they share. My heart does a flip. I stop my own evening routine and rest my head on their doorjamb. “Hear that?” I say to myself. “That’s the most important thing happening right now.”

My dad and sister: a Saturday. Sara and I are both home on college break. I’m woken up by the riot downstairs. I hear a cartoon! (In our house, the television was never on before 8 p.m.) Road Runner’s on, and there they sit, two adults, out of their minds. Wile E. Coyote runs off a cliff, locks eyes with the camera, plummets to the ground in a wisp of black. Dad, laughing till he can’t breathe. Sara, howling and grabbing her gut. Dad, tears streaming down his face.

It’s their moment, but it’s my memory some 30 years later. Big laughter. The kind you never forget.

I invite you to e-mail me at [email protected] and follow me at facebook.com/lizvaccariello and @LizVacc on Twitter.

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